Personal injury lawyers are furious that they have still not been told about the new rules and practice regulations that they will have to work under, with just 77 working days to go before the Woolf reforms take effect.
Lawyers are angry that they are being given no time to prepare staff and clients for what has been called a “revolution” in legal practices.
The Lord Chancellor's Department counters that the draft rules have been available on the Internet for months. But, in a damaging blow to the department's protests, Nigel Tomkins, a member of the joint Lord Chancellor's and Law Society committee on pre-action protocols, has added his voice to the chorus of complaints.
“The current position is frankly unbelievable,” he says. “The draft rules aren't enough. They're not complete. There are large gaps and there have been changes to some of the things published.”
He adds that the lack of practice directions makes the incoming draft rules practically useless.
Ian Walker, president of the Association of Personal Injury Lawyers, says he understands that draft rule number 32 is expected to be rule number 35 when the rules come into operation. But he adds that he has no idea how the rule has changed.
“How on earth can the Government expect practitioners to embrace this brave new world when they won't publish the new rules? It is a source of enormous concern and enormous irritation,” he says. “Most of our members are trying to prepare for the reforms, but we are being prevented from doing it because the final version of the rules haven't been published yet.”